A safety officer inspects workplaces to see if they have adhered to established rules concerning health, environment and safety of the personnel in any workplace. You will be investigating incidents that violate these regulations to determine their causes and recommend ways to prevent these in the future.
Just like most safety officers, you will most likely be working for federal, state and local governments. Your role will have you monitoring the hazards of the workplace and inspecting such areas as ventilation, lighting and equipment that could potentially affect the productivity, safety and health of the workers. If you find that a company is in flagrant violation of government safety codes and regulations, you can impose sanctions, (i.e. fines), as provided for by law.
Your work as a safety officer will have you working together with safety engineers and technicians of manufacturing companies, hospitals and other work settings to gather data and discuss how safety precautions may best be carried out. You may need to make recommendations to have tools and equipment fixed to avert injuries that could happen if these defective implements continue to be used by workers.
To succeed as a safety officer, you need to be comfortable using sophisticated testing equipment since these will be considered as one of the tools of your trade. Having problem solving skills is also important since you need to be able to come up with solutions to safety hazards that exist in the workplace. Having keen observation skills that pay attention to the smallest details are vital in helping you spot the problems that need to be addressed. Since you will be inspecting different sites, travel may be required so you need to be physically fit to do this job as well.
Why Become A Safety Officer
A career as a safety officer is well-suited for the individual who is genuinely passionate about keeping workplaces conducive to employers who spend a lot of their waking hours there. Not all employers care about the welfare of their workers so safety officers play an integral role in reminding them that doing good business also means putting the welfare of their workers first. On the practical side, a career as a safety officer gives you the opportunity to work for the federal government which provides for a stable job. It is also a job that gives decent pay.
Safety Officer Work Environment
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that 32 percent of occupational health and safety specialists, a category that includes safety officers, work for federal, state and local governments. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration are just two of the federal agencies that hire these professionals. They may also be hired by hospitals, educational institutions, consulting services and manufacturing companies, among others. The work is typically done during regular business hours but they may be called upon to work weekends or evenings if emergencies arise. Travel and fieldwork are part of this job.
Safety Officer Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage for occupational health and safety specialists is $69,050. The average wage for health and safety engineers is higher at $81, 320 a year. The states where the highest-paid occupational health and safety specialists can be found in are the District of Columbia ($84,780), California ($77,710), Connecticut ($76,050), New Jersey ($75,980) and Rhode Island ($75,330).
Safety Officer Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that for the period covering 2012 to 2022, the employment rate of safety specialists is expected to grow seven percent. Although this rate is slower than the average for all job types, they will still be needed to check employers for compliance to regulations involving worker and workplace safety. They will also be needed in companies that process nuclear power to protect workers and the environment from the hazards that accompany this very powerful energy source. The best opportunities go to those with advanced degrees.
Safety Officer Degree
A bachelor’s degree in occupational health, engineering, chemistry or biology will land an aspiring safety officer in an entry-level job. Those who have obtained practical experience in the field through internships will be preferred by employees. However, a master’s degree in industrial hygiene or related field will increase one’s chances of getting promoted or getting hired right after graduation in a higher position.